The day of Arafah falls on the 9th day of Zulhijjah, which is the 12th month in the annual Islamic Calendar, based on the lunar cycle. The day of Arafah is known to have many names, which signify the following:
The first 10 days of Zulhijjah encompasses significant religious meanings. Muslims are advised to increase their acts of goodness and spirituality to reap the rewards over this period.
The Prophet explained the significance of the first ten days of Zulhijjah in his hadith,
"There are no days in which righteous deeds are more beloved to Allah than these ten days.” The people asked, “Not even Jihad for the sake of Allah?” He said, “Not even Jihad for the sake of Allah, except in the case of a man who went out, giving himself and his wealth up for the cause (of Allah), and came back with nothing”
[Narrated by Imam Al-Bukhari]
The day of Arafah is significant because Allah swore by this Day in the Quran. It is known that Allah swears by nothing, except by that which is great, mighty and of importance.
"By the sky full of constellations. And by the Promised Day. And by the Witness and that which is Attended"
[Surah Al-Buruj (85:1-3)]
This is further reiterated by hadith of the Prophet s.a.w,
"Al-Yawmul-Maw’ud (Promised Day) is the Day of Resurrection, and Al-Yawmul-Mashhud (Attended Day) is the Day of Arafah, and Ash-Shahid (Witness) is Friday.”
[Narrated by Imam At-Tirmizi]
The day of Arafah is also significant because it is the day on which Allah perfected the message of His revelation, and completed His favours upon His beloved Prophet Muhammad s.a.w,
"This day I have perfected for you your religion and completed My favour upon you and have chosen for you Islam as religion."
[Surah Al-Maidah (5:3)]
According to the tafsir of Ibn Kathir, Sayyidina Umar r.a was asked on the above verse. He replied, "By Allah, I know when and where this verse was revealed to Allah's Messenger. It was the evening on the Day of Arafah, on a Friday."
Arafah is the day of the covenant that was taken from all humankind, as Ibn Abbas r.a narrated in a hadith where Allah s.w.t. made them (offsprings of Adam) testify as to themselves (saying),
"Am I not your Lord?" They said: "Yes, we testify," lest you should say on the Day of Resurrection.”
"Verily, we have been unaware of this." Or lest you should say: "It was only our fathers aforetime who took others as partners in worship along with Allah, and we were (merely their) descendants after them; Will you then destroy us for the falsehood they invented?”
[Musnad Imam Ahmad]
According to the scholars, there is no day better in the sight of Allah than the Day of Arafah. The Prophet s.a.w mentioned the virtues of the day of Arafah,
"And there is no day better in the sight of Allah than the Day of Arafah."
In the same hadith, the Prophet s.a.w continued how Allah s.w.t described to the angels the conditions of His servants in the Day of Arafah, "Look at My servants. They have come from far and near, with hair dishevelled and faces covered with dust, to seek My mercy, even though they have not seen My chastisement. Far more people are freed from Hellfire on the Day of Arafah than on any other day.”
[Hadith narrated by Ibn Hibban]
On no other day does Satan feel so belittled, humiliated, and angry as he does on the day of Arafah, for Allah forgives his slaves and bestow them with His infinite mercy.
Every Muslim is expected to make the pilgrimage to Makkah once during his or her lifetime; the pilgrimage itself is not considered complete unless the stop at the plains of Arafah is observed. It is on this vast plain that all of humankind will be gathering in fulfilling the 5th pillar of Islam.
Hence, the day of Arafah is crucial and synonymous to Hajj itself that the Prophet s.a.w. said,
“Hajj is Arafah”
[Hadith narrated by Imam At-Tirmizi]
Without completing this step, Hajj is not valid.
The day of Arafah is also a momentous day for the followers of Prophet Muhammad s.a.w as this was they that he delivered his final sermon to humanity, known as Khutbatul Wada’.
Prophet Muhammad s.a.w gave his farewell sermon in the plain Arafah, a few months before he passed away. This landmark sermon left a lasting message for humanity. One of the key messages delivered by Rasulullah s.a.w. is that human beings are equal.
This is one of the valuable lessons we should reflect upon which is very relevant today. There is no difference between people based on colour or ethnicity, and therefore, there is no room for racism and bigotry among Muslims. Prophet Muhammad s.a.w said,
“O people, verily your Lord is One and your father is one. Verily there is no superiority of an Arab over a non-Arab, nor a non-Arab over an Arab, nor of a red man over a black man, nor of a black man over a red man; (none have superiority over another) except by piety and good action (taqwa).”
[Musnad Imam Ahmad]
There are many more important pearls of wisdom in this sermon which we need to reflect and ensure its enduring message are being manifested by his followers today. Hopefully, by keeping the brief guide above in mind, we will be able to reap the blessings of the best day in the Islamic Hijri Year. Let us seek Allah’s abundant mercy and bounties on such a special day.